Harvard may hold Cambridge’s undeniable claim to worldwide fame, but that is not to diminish the city’s vibrant neighborhoods, superb restaurants, unique shops, and colorful bars lying just beyond the school’s gates. Harvard Square, with its international newsstands, name-brand shopping, and numerous coffee houses, is a heady mix of urban bohemia and Main Street USA. And despite its 350-plus years, Cambridge is one of the most youthful cities in the country, welcoming tens of thousands of college students to Harvard, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), and a handful of other schools every fall. To the northwest, the heavily residential city of Somerville is distinguished by its tightly knit European-style squares, where tourists seldom tread and local character abounds.

Local Stages

The performing arts form an integral part of the character of Cambridge and Somerville. The ornate Somerville Theater draws nationally recognized musical acts, while the Loeb Drama Center stages The American Repertory Theatre’s daring, top-notch productions. And Harvard student-produced pieces grace the Hasty Pudding Theatre’s stage (12 Holyoke St, Cambridge

617 495 5205).

Note:Cambridge and Somerville are served by the “T” red line

Note:Free tours of Harvard Yard depart from Holyoke Center (1350 Massachusetts Ave

, 617 495 1573)

MIT is a scenic 20-minute walk from Downtown Boston across Longfellow Bridge

  1. Harvard University

    While its stellar reputation might suggest visions of ivory towers in the sky, Harvard is a surprisingly accessible, welcoming place. Too often, visitors limit themselves to what is visible from the Yard: Massachusetts Hall, the Widener Library, maybe University Hall. But with top-notch museums, the eclectic Harvard Square, and daring performing arts spaces such as the Loeb Drama Center and Memorial Hall’s Sanders Theater lying just beyond the university, Harvard provides every incentive to linger a while.

    Musician, Harvard Square

    Harvard Square

    Memorial Hall, Harvard University
  2. Harvard Art Museums

    Harvard has some of the world’s finest collegiate art collections, which are usually displayed in three separate museums. However, during extensive renovation work to the Fogg and Busch-Reisinger buildings, which will continue until 2013, highlights from all three museums will be on display at the Sackler Museum. Visitors will enjoy the surprising juxtapositions of Chinese bronzes, Greek vases, medieval altarpieces, and German expressionist paintings .

    Sackler Museum

  3. Peabody & Natural History Museums

    Its ongoing commitment to research aside, the Peabody excels at illustrating how interactions between distinct cultures have in turn affected peoples’ lives and livelihoods. Its North American Indian exhibit displays artifacts that reflect the aftermath of encounters between white Europeans and Native Americans. The Natural History museum delves even deeper in time, exhibiting eons-old natural wonders .

    Peabody Museum

    • 11 Divinity Ave

    • 617 496 1027

    • Open 9am–5pm daily

    • Adm

    Natural History Museum

  4. Charles River Banks

    Whether you’re cheering the rowers of the Head of the Charles Regatta or watching the “T” cross Longfellow Bridge through a barrage of snowflakes, the banks of the Charles River offer a fantastic vantage point for taking in Boston’s celebrated scenes. In summer, the adjacent Memorial Drive becomes a sea of strollers, joggers, and rollerbladers.

    Charles River Banks
  5. Museum of Science

    Exploring the cosmos in the Hayden Planetarium, hitting the high notes on a musical staircase, experiencing larger-than-life IMAX films in the Mugar Omni Theater – the Museum of Science knows how to make learning enjoyable. In addition to these attractions, the museum hosts blockbuster touring exhibits like Alice the Tyrannosaurus Rex. Live presentations take place throughout the day.

    • Science Park

    • 617 723 2500

    • Open 9am– 5pm Mon–Thu, Sat & Sun (to 7pm Jul–Sep) 9am–9pm Fri

    • Adm


  6. Davis Square

    With its cooler-than-thou coffee shops, lively bar scene, affordable restaurants, and the renowned Somerville Theater, Davis Square, Somerville stands as the metro area’s most desirable neighborhood for many young Bostonians. And with prestigious Tufts University just a 10-minute walk away, the square’s youthful spirit is in a constant state of replenishment.

  7. Inman Square

    Oft-overlooked Inman Square is possibly Cambridge’s best-kept secret. Boasting such renowned restaurants and cafés as the East Coast Grill and 1369, an ace jazz club (Ryles), plus Christina’s delectable ice creams, Inman handsomely rewards those willing to go out of their way to experience a real-deal Cambridge ‘hood.

    Mural, Inman Square
  8. Longfellow House

    Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow can be credited with helping to shape Boston’s – and America’s – collective identity. His poetic documentation of Paul Revere’s midnight ride immortalized both him and his subject. In 1837, Longfellow took up residence in this house in the country’s academic heart, a few blocks from Harvard Yard. He was not the house’s first illustrious resident. General George Washington headquartered and planned the 1776 siege of Boston in these rooms. The building is preserved with furnishings of Longfellow’s and Washington’s heydays, and houses the poet’s archives.

    • 105 Brattle St

    • 617 876 4491

    • Open May–Oct: 10am–4:30pm Wed–Sun. Closed May: Wed & Sun

    • Adm


  9. Cambridge Multicultural Arts Center

    Housed in a beautiful 19th-century courthouse, the CMAC presents performance and visual art exhibitions which promote cross-cultural exchange. A unique feature is the encouragement of dialogue between audience and artist after performances and openings.

    • 41 2nd St

    • 617 577 1400

    • Open 10am–6pm Mon–Fri

    • Free

  10. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

    Not to be outdone by its irrepressible Ivy League neighbor, MIT has been the country’s leading technical university since its founding in 1861. This school of improbable theorems and calculator-toting world shapers offers many places of interest. Its List Visual Arts Center exhibits work that comments on technology or employs it in fresh, surprising ways. Also of note is the MIT Museum, with its interactive exhibits on artificial intelligence, holography, and the world’s first computers.

    • 77 Massachusetts Ave

    • 617 253 4795

    List Visual Arts Center

    • 20 Ames St, Cambridge

    • 617 253 4680

    • Open noon–6pm Tue–Sun (to 8pm Thu)

    • Free

    MIT Museum

    • 265 Massachusetts Ave

    • 617 253 4444

    • Open 10am–5pm Tue–Fri, noon–5pm Sat–Sun

    • Adm


    Amorales vs Amorales by Carlos Amorales, at MIT’s List Visual Arts Center
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